Harbouring grand ambitions

I have a new ambition to take on a leadership role. How can I highlight my potential without openly grandstanding?

Dear HRM,

I have been working with a large global media company as part of its leadership development team for the past four years. It has given me great experience and, most recently, a new ambition to take on a leadership role myself. I am still flying “under the radar” in this respect – how can I highlight my potential to the organisation’s leaders without openly grandstanding?

- Ambitious individual


Laurence SmithLaurence Smith: I think there are a couple of steps here. One is to voluntarily step forward and take on special projects or any initiatives that are being launched – demonstrate that you are proactive and can take a leadership role on projects that matter.

Secondly, I’d have a frank conversation with my boss about how much you enjoy leadership development, and how you feel you’d be even more impactful if you had line management experience, or skills in running a business from a team leader or other leadership position.

I’d ask their advice on how to get that experience, since it’s highly probable that they would of course agree.

Thirdly I would think about the leaders who had been through my programme in the past year, and I’d go and ask their advice also. You can even say to them that you’re particularly keen to take on a leadership position: would they either coach you, or give you a chance in one of their open positions?

Laurence Smith is a board-level advisor to Smartup.io. With 25 years of working experience in consulting and HR, his career has spanned across different industries and countries, including stints and projects with LG Electronics, GE Capital, McKinsey, the World Bank, and as Managing Director of Learning and Development for DBS Bank.


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